Thursday, June 7, 2018

Classical Composition (Memoria Pess)...A Homeschool Review Crew Post


Throughout out years of reviewing homeschooling materials with the Crew, we have been fortunate to receive a number of excellent products from Memoria Press. They are always so generous. In fact, during this particular review, I had difficulty finding a product being offered that I don’t already have in my library! For this review, I received Classical Composition I-Fable Set.

Classical Composition I: Fable Set

In my box of goodies, I received the Teacher Guide, Student Book and the Instructional DVD's. It is intended to be used for grades 4-12. There are a total of 20 lessons to work through. 

As with any of the Memoria Press products the Teacher’s Guide is excellent.  It contains teaching guidelines. The guidelines go through each aspect of the lessons carefully…even providing extra hints and tips. A helpful rubric comes next. I love a good rubric. Especially, if one isn’t quite sure how to “grade” a writing project.  The lessons plans, themselves, are scripted and give plenty of examples and helps. The appendix at the back of the book contains figures of description with examples.

The student book contains an introduction, a definition of terms and the figures of description appendix. The lessons have the fable, accompanying questions and space for writing.I do need to tell you that if you have more than one student working through the curriculum you will need to purchase a Student Book for each student. 

One of my favorite parts are the instructional DVD’s. Brett Vaden for the win! Thank you, Brett. Could you come to my house for a few other subjects? There are 4 DVD’s that contain 5 lessons each. The lessons last about 30 minutes. I LOVE this kind of stuff. We are able to stop and start when needed and rewind as often as we must.

So how does all this work?

Let me tell ya.

Each lesson contains a short fable. You can do this lesson in one sitting or spread it out depending on your student’s abilities/attention span or your schedule.

Mr. Brett reads the fable out loud. After the video lesson, the student (aka Josiah) then reads the fable on his own. Then there are vocabulary words to check out. All of the fables will contain three plot components….recognition, reversal and suffering.

For example, Lesson 1 is the Ant and the Chrysalis.  If you have never heard this particular fable before, let me fill you in.

Mr. Ant is a busy guy. One day he comes across a Chrysalis that is approaching his change. The Ant sees the Chrysalis move its tail and is overcome with self-congratulations. He disdainfully tells the Chrysalis that he pities him and then waxes on about his own superior ability of running and scurrying. We all know what happens next. The Chrysalis is transformed into a beautiful butterfly. The ant is overcome by the majesty of the Butterfly’s beautiful wings. After a short speech, in which the Butterfly actually says “Behold in me” and flies away, the ant is left to his own little pitiful self.

This, of course, is Beke’s version of the Fable.  

So recognition is when the reader identifies with the story. For example, in this case, Josiah knew exactly what an ant looks like when searching for food. There is a little more to it, but you get the gist.

After identifying the plot components, the student works through the Variations: Part 1 portion. He will first find synonyms for a particular set of words.  Then he will turn the fable into an outline….which is awesome, by the way. The last portion of Variations: Part 1 is to narrate or rewrite the fable using their outline.

Next is paraphrasing. I find this to be something Josiah really struggles with. But it is a necessary part of writing (I use it all the time in my own projects).  In this curriculum there are particular components that the students are expected to be able to identify and work with.

So if we just left the lesson at that it would be great, but there is more stuff to do!

Variations: Part 2 follows a similar procedure as the first variation and then it is time to write the Final Draft.

Here are a few things I want to tell you.

Memoria Press is a Classical Education company. Their products can be challenging in many respects. But they are also very thorough and comprehensive. I find it is helpful not to be too ambitious…especially if you are not used to a Classical Education model. What is really great about this product, however, is that it does require the student to take his or her time and think critically.

For us, these are not lessons that can be done in one sitting.  I also need to tell you that Josiah is dyslexic. BUT…the shortness of the fables helped tremendously in that regard. We also really took advantage of narration and were able to talk through some of the concepts and trickier components.

I do know that this wouldn’t be one he could do by himself.

I also found that the rubric was helpful for him to look through, as well. He liked to see what was expected of him.

Overall, this is a great product! Memoria Press doesn’t disappoint. Be sure to check out all the Sample pages! 


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